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Nehwal Prevails in Epic – TOTAL BWF World Championships: Quarter-finals

China were left without a medal prospect in Women’s Singles after an epic semi-final saw Wang Yihan fall to Saina Nehwal in the TOTAL BWF World Championships today.

It will be the first time in history that China have failed to secure a Women’s Singles medal after they debuted at the World Championships in 1983.

Despite the heat of Jakarta, it was a wintry day for China as five-time World champion Lin Dan’s bid for a sixth world title came to a halt at the hands of Jan O Jorgensen. Men’s Doubles contenders Zhang Nan/Fu Haifeng were also shown the door, after a tense quarter-final with top seeds Lee Yong Dae/Yoo Yeon Seong. The only match that went in their favour in the evening session was the upset of Men’s Doubles No.2 seeds Mathias Boe/Carsten Mogensen (Denmark) by Liu Xiaolong/Qiu Zihan.

Nehwal’s (right) face-off with Wang, the last match of the day, hit the high notes from the beginning and stayed that way. There was scarcely an unforced error; scarcely a shot played in haste as each player put the other through a physical ordeal. Played at a high pace and with both players exploring every inch on the opposite court, the match took on the contours of a classic. Nehwal’s retrieving abilities helped her stonewall Wang’s sharp shots from every angle; the Indian’s judicious shotmaking helped her lead by a game and 13-8 in the second before Wang began her comeback.

For most of the third it was Wang who led, each point lasting a few exchanges as neither player yielded an inch. Eventually, a smash aimed at Wang’s midriff gave Nehwal the opening, which she converted on the first opportunity.

“I’m so happy to get a medal at the World Championships because I’ve never made it past the quarter-finals in previous editions,” said Nehwal.

“I always had difficult draws and would run into a Chinese in the quarter-final. There was a mental block. This time too I had to play Wang Yihan, it was almost like a final. I love playing in Indonesia. Tomorrow, even if the crowd is cheering for Lindaweni (Fanetri), I will believe they are cheering for me.”

Jorgensen (below) made the Men’s Singles semi-finals comprehensively outplaying the great Lin Dan in straight games, 21-12 21-15. The Dane earned the right to play Lee Chong Wei in the last-four; the Malaysian earlier having dealt the same sort of treatment to Hong Kong’s Hu Yun (21-12 21-18).

Jorgensen raced past Lin from the start and never allowed him to catch up. The Olympic champion appeared below his usual self, making far too many errors and unable to get any momentum in the rallies. He was down 4-13 in quick time; the Dane closed it out 21-12.

The second game was a bit more competitive, but the Dane played a percentage game, not giving anything away, while Lin was profligate. After converting match point, Jorgensen walked around unbelievingly with his head in his hands.

“I’m an emotional guy and I’m not scared to show my emotions,” said Jorgensen.

“I played at a very high level. He wasn’t his best today. I’ve dreamed of getting on the podium ever since I was a child. I played almost a perfect match. Last year I had to withdraw when the event was at home. I had set a goal for a big achievement the last two years.

“The competition is very tough. To achieve this in this stadium, where the fans are so passionate and knowledgeable about the game, I’m happy to deliver this level of game. Many good players have failed to get a medal at the World Championships. I’m proud I’m up there. These are the goals you set as a child.”

Lee Yong Dae (BWF home page) and Yoo Yeon Seong might have clinched their Men’s Doubles match in straight games over Zhang Nan/Fu Haifeng, but it was far tighter than the score suggested. The second game in particular was on a knife edge until the Koreans extracted their victory at the very end. The 21-15 21-18 result gave them a place against Indonesia’s Mohammad Ahsan/Hendra Setiawan.

“Actually we didn’t have that much preparation time for this tournament,” said Lee Yong Dae. 

“We had tournaments to play in and so once that finished, we really only had about a week to prepare. More than training, what is important is how you approach your matches and that you don’t get nervous. So playing tournaments during the preparation period was actually quite helpful.  In my opinion, at our level the mental aspects are really important and it’s how you react mentally from point to point and keep your concentration that counts more than physical training.”

Japan’s Hiroyuki Endo/Kenichi Hayakawa (above) weathered a strong challenge from Angga Pratama/Ricky Karanda Suwardi to emerge victorious (21-17 14-21 21-18) and will face China’s Liu/Qiu in the semi-finals.

Women’s Doubles defending champions Tian Qing/Zhao Yunlei (above) eased past compatriots Yu Yang/Wang Xiaoli 21-17 21-13 and will take on home stars Greysia Polii/Nitya Krishinda Maheswari. Denmark’s Christinna Pedersen/Kamilla Rytter Juhl dismantled the challenge of Korea’s Yoo Hae Won/Go Ah Ra 21-8 21-10 and will next take on Japan’s Naoko Fukuman/Kurumi Yonao.

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